Critique Group, Publisher Style

Today I will discuss another group I belong to but do not consistently attend.  It is a  critique group and can be very helpful.

This group varies from meeting to meeting. The leader is a publisher who promotes writing, but her base is very large, so attendance varies from meeting to meeting. It is a good group with published and non-published authors in attendance. It is a fun, “campy” group with people of varying ages and backgrounds. Young law students, a high school math teacher, counselors, nurses, stay-at-home moms all have a say in the group. We meet in the evening at a coffeehouse where refreshments and food are available. The meetings begin with a brief explanation by the publisher and introductions, followed by a short writing prompt. We share what we have written from the prompt if we choose.

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We are invited to bring a few pages of what we are working on. If we want a critique, we make 10 copies to pass around for people to read. After the pages are read and marked on, we go around and offer our opinions. The copies are returned to the authors of the stories.

People are generally very kind, starting with what they like and accenting the positive. They also share the parts that they think could use some work.

Pros: This critique group promotes writing and offers clear, non-threatening suggestions for the stories presented. It meets on a regular basis in the evening for 1-1 1/2 hours. Refreshments are available. The stories are read by people from various backgrounds and education. The leader is a publisher who may show an interest in your story. All genres and writing styles are read by the members. People are friendly and unintimidating.
Cons: It is difficult to get to know people well because of the inconsistent membership. Some meetings are attended by 5-6 people and other times, up to 15 plus. The group may try to do too much, having writing prompts and critique sessions. Having both at one meeting may limit adequate time to do either well.

I like to attend this group when I have material worth reading because I feel they give a fair, impartial critique.  I have had stories that I thought were dazzling, but the group input wasn’t as glowing as I anticipated.  This group keeps me grounded while making me feel like my story is salvageable.  It encourages writers to tweak their work without shooting them down.

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